Previously on the Best and Worst of Friday Night Smackdown: Miz and Morrison spent the day pranking Braun Strowman and accidentally slimed Kayla Braxton, while the very tasteful story of Sheamus calling Jeff Hardy “a junkie” continued.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for June 12, 2020.
Worst: Who Are You And What Have You Done With Brandon?!?
Hi, everybody! Scott Heisel here. You might recognize my byline around these parts, especially if you enjoy me recapping an old cowboy refusing to ride off into the sunset. Brandon is taking a much-deserved weekend off from challengers pinning champions in non-title matches (not that this scenario would ever happen, but just as a hypothetical).
Worst: Urine Trouble
Okay, so let’s just get the worst part of the episode out of the way immediately, the same way Smackdown had this segment open the show. The Jeff Hardy, Potentially Relapsing Addict angle is pretty gross no matter how much they try to play his real-life addictions for sympathy (and it is worth noting that having Hardy on TV admitting he’s an alcoholic who attends weekly AA meetings is powerful), and this segment does nothing to change it. Sheamus and Hardy are scheduled to have a contract signing — when was the last time a match not for a championship had a contract signing, anyway? — but Sheamus (who brings out security guards for some reason, though it’s never quite explained why) refuses to sign anything until he makes Hardy take a piss test on national TV. Even if you missed the spoilers earlier in the week, it goes exactly the way you’d expect it. with Hardy throwing what looked to be a solid pint of piss at the Celtic Warrior, after having his epic burn of “It’s better to be pissed off than be pissed on” muted by FOX censors (and the whole incident cut from the west coast feed entirely). WWE continues to find ways to trip over their own feet with FOX, who has to be wondering if there’s any sort of out clause in their $1 billion, 5-year TV deal. But hey, at least an old billionaire got to chuckle at someone becoming the cover boy for next month’s issue of Piss Drinkers. Wrestling!
Best: Black Lives Matter
Infinite praise goes to Big E and Kofi Kingston for using their platform on primetime TV to speak out on behalf of Breonna Taylor, Tamla Horsford and Shukri Abdi. Who would’ve thought the New Day would eventually circle back around to its Nation Of Domination roots?
Worst: Cesaro And Shinsuke Nakamura Have Pinned The Smackdown Tag Team Champions!
You’ve got to think that puts them into contention for a future title shot!
Best: Professional By God Wrestling
The big hook of this episode was the Intercontinental Championship finals between Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. While early word from inside the PC said this match, taped weeks ago, was top notch, there was still a huge part of me that expected a schmozz finish — maybe with Sami Zayn returning — to force a redo at Backlash this Sunday. But WWE, to their credit (just this one time), actually stuck to their word and let two of the best professional wrestlers in the world (which is round, btw) have an absolutely outstanding professional wrestling match that took up nearly 45 minutes of TV time.
The ensuing contest is without a doubt one of the best on WWE TV in 2020 thus far, and for sure the best thing that’s been on Friday nights in a long while. Bryan and Styles put on a goddamn clinic for an audience who will actually benefit the most from watching it up close — PC trainees and NXT wrestlers. Even though there were a slew of commercial breaks throughout (and what do you wanna bet DBry and AJ actually continued to wrestle through those breaks as to not break their pacing?), the match continued to build tension throughout, with the little things really shining through.
For example, early on Bryan sells his left arm, which stops him from applying the surfboard to Styles. He then tries to turn it into an inverted surfboard, but gets his shoulders down in the process, making Charles Robinson start counting to three and meaning he has to release the submission.
Later on in the match, after Styles has been softening up Bryan’s left knee for some time, Bryan is in position for his Yes Kicks, but there’s a brief moment where he pauses ever so slightly during his windup to sell the knee. It’s beautiful, and it’s stuff like this (and his secretly sadistic streak that reminds me he might be a face but he’ll never be a goody two shoes) that is a stark reminder why Bryan is still one of top talents in the industry — and the final sequence, where Styles catches Bryan mid-Knee Plus and hits a Styles Clash, followed by a Phenomenal Forearm for the win, was just stunning, and is a reminder that Styles, when paired with the right talent, is just as good. Maybe they’ll just re-air this during Backlash instead of Edge/Orton. Y’know, card subject to change and all that.
Best: The WWE Prom-formance Center
Pre-promance Center? Prom-promance Promer? Whichever works better for you. Sure, it’s yet another variation of a promo parade, but it also featured balloon arches, Sasha Banks in sequins and Bayley absolutely roasting Michael Cole over a selfie. Oh, and let’s not forget the best part:
The IIconics magically being summoned on the Titantron! Way to keep socially distant and still have an impact, ladies.
Best: The Band Is Back Together
My beloved beef boi Otis finally has his best friend back by his side. Tucker Knight returned from… the tattoo parlor, apparently? Seriously, this is his first appearance on WWE programming in two months. Where the fuck has he been? Did he have COVID? At this point, I have to assume anyone who’s not a main event player and does not live outside the country but is still not on TV probably caught the ‘rona. Dude literally lives in Orlando. What was keeping him from the PC, traffic?
Frankly, I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get any more Otis and Mandy vignettes this week, as I have absolutely loved them. I know Brandon and I split on this. (You should see our debates on the With Spandex Slack channel.) But I identify with Otis more than almost any pro wrestler in history, so keep those increasingly ridiculous Vaseline-lens clips coming.
The main event was a six-man tag that featured Heavy Machinery and Braun Strowman versus a dangerously overtanned Dolph Ziggler teaming with Miz and Morrison (who had the premiere of their new music video ruined by Braun — rude) that had its fair share of ridiculous moments (such as Braun eating Miz’s sunglasses before the bell rang and Otis deserting his team to go backstage and punch King Corbin in the face, which is the same reaction I have every time I see him too), but ultimately gave Otis the rub as he goes into a pay-per-view weekend where he could conceivably cash in his Money In The Bank briefcase on Braun, Miz, Morrison or all three mid-match. There’s even a moment as the show was going off the air where Otis glances over at Braun, just to let the audience know he is focused on the big prize at hand. I gotta be honest with you, it is wild to me that this Otis/Mandy storyline has made it as far as it has, and that we might be creating a new Macho Man/Miss Elizabeth combination for the 21st century. Long-term storytelling: Who knew it was possible anymore?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
(Back in Gorilla)
Sheamus: So what would you rate that segment, fella?
VKM: You’re an eight
The Real Birdman
Otis just heard King was hitting on his girlfriend & was right to sprint to the back
I knew this was coming because the news leaked earlier today
“Jeff Hardy’s test results were negative.” -Doctor
“We’re gonna beat this. Ok? ” -Michael Scott
If “you’re in” luck, “wee” predict this segment will “whiz” by quickly.
The Voice of Raisin
Here we have peaceful protesters like Big E and Kofi trying to make a change, and all the media shows us is guys like Keith Lee breaking a plexiglass window with Johnny Gargano.
That doctor is way too giddy to get Jeff’s urine.
Hey, not even 8:30 and we’ve got a “X has pinned the tag team champions!” Feels early tonight
Baron Von Raschke
The pause in the comments reminds me of when AJ was on SmackDown right after the show moved to USA and we just all stopped commenting to enjoy AJ wrestling a match.
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown — all in all, I thought it was a pretty good episode, liquid human waste not withstanding. Thanks for reading, and make sure to be back here Sunday night for Backlash. Will it feature a Universal championship change? Probably not! But what this theory presupposes is… maybe?